Microsoft's Xbox 360 has an overall first-time hardware failure rate of 54.2 percent among its readers -- that's according to a report by print magazine Game Informer in its latest issue.
The magazine drew its conclusions from a readership sample of 5,000. The failure rate, which specifically refers to the number of console owners who have had at least one defective Xbox 360, was several times higher than that of either major competitor. Only 10.6 percent of PlayStation 3 owners reported a failure, while just 6.8 percent of Wii owners reported one.
Of those Xbox 360 owners with defective consoles, 41.2 percent were said to have at least one replacement console fail as well. Still, a mere 3.8 percent said they would refuse to buy a new one as a result.
Based on the reported gaming habits of its readership -- 40.3 percent (the largest group) of Game Informer's sample said they play their Xbox 360 consoles for three to five hours per day.
About the same percent (also the largest group in this case) said they play their Wii consoles for fewer than three hours a day -- the magazine speculated that one reason for the particularly low Wii failure rate is simply less usage.
(Those patterns are somewhat corroborated by recent Nielsen research
, which states that Wii is the least-used console amongst "active users.")
In the past, Microsoft has claimed its console's failure rate is only around a few percent, within the range of most consumer electronics products. Still, the company has taken a number of steps to increase its technical support and warranty coverage to combat complaints.
Outside estimates of the statistic have been widely variable. Few outlets, however, have been able to point to specifically-sourced data with a considerable sample size as in Game Informer's survey.
When contacted by Gamasutra on the matter, Microsoft responded with the following statement:
"Microsoft stands behind the Xbox 360 as a superior entertainment console with one of the best warranties in the industry. We are constantly improving the design, manufacture and performance of the console through extensive testing of potential sources of any problems. Xbox 360 is pleased to maintain the title of “most played console” and the vast majority of Xbox 360 customers have enjoyed a terrific gaming and entertainment experience since their first day, and continue to, day in and day out. Any Xbox 360 owners experiencing issues with their console should contact Microsoft for repairs or troubleshooting tips at www.xbox.com/support or 1-800-4-MY-XBOX.